DUI Probable Cause
Observation Evidence Gathered Pre-Arrest
Even before you were asked to step out of your car or truck, the officer was already gathering probable cause evidence from you. Officers are trained, upon contact with the driver, to:
- Listen for slurred or slow speech
- Look for bloodshot, watery eyes
- Watch if you “fumble” as you retrieve your license, registration and insurance card
- Ask where you are coming from and where you are going
- Smell any odors of intoxicants such as alcohol or marijuana coming from the vehicle
- Listen for inconsistent or irrational responses to their questions
- Seek admissions from the driver that they have consumed alcohol recently
The officer continued to gather evidence as you stepped from your vehicle; he or she watched for signs of poor balance, such as using the vehicle for support or using your arms to balance as you stand or walk. Next, the officer likely had you perform voluntary field sobriety tests to gather further evidence against you. Admissions of drinking, consuming marijuana or taking prescription or even over-the-counter drugs are strong evidence. Some drivers believe the officer will let them go if they “cooperate” by admitting to having “only a couple” drinks. This is not the case.
Your constitutional rights include the right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney before questioning. If you exercised these rights, you did the right thing. If the officer continued to question you after you invoked your rights, the court may suppress your statements, and a competent defense attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction of the charge.
When Did Evidence Gathering Begin?
Gathering of evidence against you began with the officer observing your vehicle for “clues” of impaired driving, such as:
- Driving on or over lane markings (center or right)
- Driving slower than the speed limit
- Failing to signal lane changes or turns
- Turning with a wide radius
- Following too closely
- Slow response to traffic signals
The officer then observed your actions in pulling over, looking for evidence of:
- Failing to notice the signal immediately
- Taking too long to pull over
- Pulling over too soon (unsafely)
- Parking your vehicle improperly
- Having difficulty with controls (ignition, gears, windows)
A competent Washington DUI attorney will always look for a challenge to the lawfulness of the stop. If probable cause for the stop is questionable, the case may be dismissed or the charge reduced through negotiation.
The officer also observed your appearance and behavior for:
- Bloodshot or watery eyes
- Odor of an alcoholic beverage on your breath or person
- Nervousness and fumbling for your license or paperwork
- Slurred speech
- Inappropriate or unusual behavior (arguing, crying, pleading)
If you have any questions about the evidence found against you, tell your story in confidence, call us at (206) 472-1138 or fill out the form below.